Jimmy Conquers the Matrix

Last night for the first time, due to a complicated array of circumstances that rendered our Jeep Commander unavailable, I had to fit three passengers — my 6’1″ husband, my 14-year-old son who already wears size 12 shoes, and James in his Cadillac of a car seat — into my adorable and trusty Toyota Matrix. This arrangement rendered the Matrix into something of a clown car.

With Jimmy’s car seat installed behind the front passenger seat, any front-seat Matrix passenger must contort into a position ridiculously close to the dashboard. My husband folded himself into something of a fortune cookie, knees to his chest, as Junior filled up the portion of the back seat that wasn’t occupied by James and the giant car seat. I could feel the lanky teenage legs pressed up against the back of my seat as I drove. Quite literally, I had to put my purse in the trunk because there was no room for it in the front of the car. 

We only had to drive a few miles this way, but the experience further reinforced the fact that a minivan is in our near future, although we have written off the Scottish Routan salesman. After several e-mail exchanges, it is clear that he is either blatantly ignoring my requests or that he simply can’t read.

So even if we could get a decent deal out of him on the version of the Routan I want (which has been an experience akin to teaching my dog to talk), my husband and I agree that we don’t want our money to support his anti-American, misogynistic, possibly illiterate self anyhow. We may still end up with a Routan, but we won’t be buying it from that guy.

More Oxygen, Please

James loves the SnugginGo.

No lack of oxygen for Jimmy!

After our first few trips in the car, I became very concerned about the position James’s giant head was taking when he sat in his car seat. Basically, once strapped in, hishead slumped forward and his chin became pressed to his chest, which to me seemed dangerous because of the difficulty it could cause in his breathing. Although my theories are not always scientifically accurate (i.e., I am often deemed a crackpot), this one was actually backed up by a few minutes of Googling. 

Apparently, the chin-to-chest position can compromise a baby’s airway, resulting in significantly lowered levels of oxygen — obviously a problematic scenario for a growing child.

Despite the fact that poor head positioning is unsafe for babies, it is all too common in infant car seats. However, nothing in the Graco manual warns parents of the danger, and the most popular solution I found online involved a network of rolled up receiving blankets shoved behind the baby’s shoulders and knees and around his head. In addition to this get-up being a total pain in the ass to arrange every time I loaded him into the seat, Jimmy found it wildly uncomfortable. 

So, the search for an effective insert to keep Jimmy from suffocating in the car began to consume me. Finally, I found the Snuggin Go. I was a little wary of the $50 price tag, but it got great reviews from parents and was designed by a neonatal nurse (who also runs the small business that markets it), so I went for it. Honestly — and I swear they are not paying me to say this — it is worth every penny. 

The difference in James’s body and head position with the Snuggin Go insert is amazing. He is clearly more comfortable in his car seat now, his head is ever so slightly tipped back so his airway is wide open, and I worry a lot less that he will perish in the back seat while I drive around town. 

Although it had a happy ending, this whole experience me angry at the car seat companies for building such a ubiquitous product that is so lacking. The level of blind trust we have in child safety giants like Graco is alarming when you consider that their product designs ignore this seemingly basic element of infant anatomy. 

As far as I can tell, the Snuggin Go is only sold through the company’s Web site, but hopefully it will make it into stores soon so more babies can benefit.